Review: Letters to the Church

Letters to the Church

Letters the the Church
By Francis Chan
David C Cook, 9780830776580, September 2018, 224pp.

The Short of It:

If you’ve ever questioned the concept of “church” and whether American churches succeed in carrying out their mission, then this is an excellent book to get you thinking.

The Rest of It:

Many of you might be familiar with Francis Chan but if not, I’ll give you a little bit of background. He founded Cornerstone Church in Simi Valley, Ca. Cornerstone had humble beginnings but quickly grew into the megachurch that it is today.  As this was happening, Chan realized that although his numbers were impressive and people were pouring in, only a small percentage of the congregation was actually serving or using their God-given gifts.

This weighed heavily on him.

Chan knew this was not the purpose of the church and that he had failed its members by not building up his few. They relied on him to be fed and if that didn’t happen, they grew to be unsatisfied. They didn’t seem to know how to seek God out on their own. After discussing this with his wife, Chan made a difficult decision to leave the church. He packed up his family and left the country to pursue what he felt was missing at Cornerstone.

Letters to the Church is a collection of his findings and let me tell you, it’s a fascinating read. He talks about the value of in-home ministry. Much of the book talks about church “planting” and what he’s discovered through the years. As I was reading, I felt inspired to do more as a leader. I felt hopeful and encouraged.

But I felt that the book had a few issues as well.

For one, if you attend church, you will for sure see similarities between your own and Cornerstone. I feel as if the book was written in such a way that it would be impossible for you not to relate to it. Perhaps, it’s focus was too broad? A lot of churches today target the non-follower by adding cup holders, coffee houses, contemporary music and the like. Is this necessarily a bad thing?

The other thing that stood out is that Chan didn’t really seek the view points of others at Cornerstone before writing this book. If he did, he didn’t include them in it. So this is solely Chan’s view of the megachurch model. I think it would have been helpful to hear some other opinions of those from the U.S.

My life group is on a break between series so we decided to read and discuss this book during the break. I think it’s a very important read but I also think that while reading it, you could find yourself picking apart your own church which Chan admitted, was not his intention. For such a heavy topic, it’s very readable and will get you thinking about how you view the church as a whole.

Source: Purchased
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.

8 thoughts on “Review: Letters to the Church”

    1. Very thought-provoking. I am still thinking about it. The way churches are structured these days, they tend to cater to the “new believer” or even the non-believer. Whatever gets them to come, you know? I understand that mindset but once you become a member and have been for a long time, you want to go deeper. Chan’s book says that most don’t. I believe it.

  1. I think the US does “big church” in a way that no one else does. It really seems like a business to someone on the outside. To me, church is about community and for that, perhaps, smaller is better?

    1. I agree. Right now the trend is to attract as many non-followers as possible. Attract them with stadium seating, coffee houses, cup holders, meet-ups and hangouts. But very few of those people end up serving or using their gifts for anything of purpose. They come to be fed. Smaller, usually means more accountability but not always.

    1. Yes! Exactly. Chan says numerous times that the point is not to return to your church full of feedback and criticisms but it’s hard not to find your own church in what he talks about.

  2. I myself like smaller churches, they seem more like “friends and family’ and large churches feel like they have too many people to feel as welcoming. That’s just my personal opinion, I know people who love large churches. This book sounds like a good choice for those who like the bigger or the smaller church.

    1. I think some like large churches because it’s easier to go without being held accountable for anything. When I first started going to church I appreciated the largeness because I could blend in and not stick out like the sinner I was. LOL. Of course now, after years there I know people and serve with them, etc.

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